Eden Primary believes that there is no single process which suits every child at every stage of reading development, and while there is a general agreement that children can be taught to read successfully through synthetic phonics, there is nothing in the literature or experience of educationalists to suggest that this technique represents a process which can produce best results in isolation.
Current thinking strongly indicates a mixed menu which brings together previously polarised approaches via the teaching of phonics and the use of real books. Eden Primary adopts an approach to the teaching of literacy that combines synthetic phonics method with the use of levelled reading programmes and real books, relying on the decision making of the teaching professionals working closely with each child as part of the whole class, in small ability groups and according to individual need.
Eden Primary will use Letters and Sounds as its foundational approach to synthetic phonics supplemented with materials from Jolly Phonics. Teachers will use a range of levelled reading schemes, materials and levelled real books to support the teaching of literacy skills and to motivate learners. Meeting the needs of reluctant readers is paramount in ensuring success for all motivation, enjoyment and achievement. The goal of the programme at Eden Primary is to engage children in reading for pleasure and information. They see themselves as readers, gain confidence quickly and become engrossed in stories and good quality literature so that they become passionate readers, who are interested and engaged by real books and who read for their own enjoyment as well as to access information of all kinds. In this way our children’s imaginations and desire to read is stimulated and they have a strong motivation to gain the necessary skills and will attain excellent reading levels. Reading as an enjoyable and entertaining learning experience, activity, and skill is at the core of the programme and is be a focus across all subjects in the curriculum.
Classroom environments are rich in good quality children’s literature. Children are immersed in books and stories and teachers model a passion for all kinds of books and reading to the children. Careful attention is paid to ensuring that each classroom library is well supplied with the best children’s literature as well books selected from the best reading programmes. Books are provided at all appropriate reading levels to ensure that they increase in difficulty gradually and are levelled to enable children to progress through different stages of reading. Teachers and children can work together to select books that enable the pupils to thoroughly enjoy reading, be challenging at an appropriate level, foster good progress and achieve a high standard of skill in reading.
Teachers will draw on all resources available to engage the interest of and to meet the needs of each class, each group and each child as appropriate. Programmes that combine the teaching of reading in real books with a synthetic phonics or other phonic approach will be implemented as above. Using real books offers the same opportunities as reading schemes for children of all abilities to acquire phonic skills, with the added bonus of a greater variety of structure, style and typography. This approach will be supplemented by other methods whenever considered necessary following assessment – children receive regular diagnostic reading assessments during the school year. They learn to apply their phonic skills to a wide range of contexts away from reading schemes such as the research-based ‘Phonics Bug’ series of books so that the young reader experiences wider success after key phonemes have been learned. The best series such as this will be made available in the classroom and by using ICT.
The reading programme is integrated with the writing programme as children study authors as models for their own writing, different styles of writing and genres, and use stories and books to inform their writing. Children engage in a variety of reading experiences and group and individual plans are developed. The learning experiences include: work in both mixed ability and similar ability pairs and groups, the teacher reading books aloud to the whole class, reading as a whole class, reading in pairs, guided reading in groups, reading to a teacher as an individual, phonics, responding to literature, comprehension and skill development in the context of good literature. Children keep reading journals and will both review and recommend the literature they read.
Small, group-guided reading and individual conferencing with pupils allow teachers to use varied approaches and use and adjust the teaching of phonics and other reading skills according to the needs of the groups. Whenever necessary, additional resources are used to supplement the reading programme for children who are gifted and talented or struggling to read.
There is a home-school reading program in which teachers, parents and children communicate each week in a journal discussing the children’s reading progress and experiences. Children take books home to share with their families and return them on a daily/weekly basis. Teachers and parents are asked to write in the journal each week and to communicate with each other about the child’s reading. As children read and write increasingly well and more independently they will also be able to write in the weekly reading journal.